NBA Playoffs: Luka Doncic to miss Game 1 vs. Jazz

Luka Doncic to miss first game vs Utah Jazz (2)
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives to the basket against Chicago Bulls forward Derrick Jones Jr. (5) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Tim Heitman)

As it was expected after suffering a sprained left calf (of which we still do not know how serious it is) the star of the Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic, will not play in the first game of the series against the Utah Jazz for the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs. The Slovenian suffered the injury during the Mavs’ last regular season game against the San Antonio Spurs, having to leave the game during the end of the third quarter.

The injury was confirmed by an MRI scan the next day; however, the Mavericks did not specify the depth of the sprain, instead classifying Doncic’s injury as an indeterminate recovery that may take a week and a half, putting him out of the entire series against the Jazz. The latest news on the European’s injury confirms that it is more serious than first thought, with many questions regarding his physical condition ahead of the playoffs’ second leg.

Luka Doncic to miss first game vs Utah Jazz (2)
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives to the basket against Chicago Bulls forward Derrick Jones Jr. (5) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Tim Heitman)

Luka’s recuperation must be as complete as possible, because if he returns to the court too soon, he risks re-aggravating the injury and possibly acquiring a new one. The third game of the series is scheduled to take place on Thursday, April 21: a more realistic date to have the Mavericks’ team player back in court.

Doncic is undoubtedly the team’s key player in the postseason, averaging 33.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 9.5 assists and 1.2 steals along with 49.2% efficiency from the field and 39.2% in three-pointers through 13 career playoff games, where he has been eliminated in the first round by the same team, the Los Angeles Clippers.

Luka Doncic to miss first game vs. Utah Jazz
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) is defended by Detroit Pistons guard Killian Hayes (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, April 6, 2022, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Mavericks’ options without Luka Doncic

In the absence of their top star, the Dallas Mavericks will have to pin their hopes moving forward on Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie from the perimeter, with help from Dorian Finney-Smith and Dwight Powell in the paint. The possible returns of Maxi Kleber (ankle injury) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (foot injury) are also unknown, since they appear to remain physically unavailable.

The first match will be played on Saturday, April 16, at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas.

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